“You might say we are awash in definitions of the essay and essays themselves, or to mis-paraphrase Wallace Stevens, ideas about the thing as well as the thing itself.” On The Making of the American Essay, the third and final volume of John D’Agata’s A New History of the Essay.
At HTML Giant, Catherine Lacey interviews David Shields, who says that his new book, How Literature Saved My Life, drew material from his stated identity as a “highly self-conscious lab rat.” For more, you can read our own Mark O’Connell’s review of his book in the Times.
One of the biggest literary releases of the year is out today, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. Read the book's opening here. Another literary heavy hitter out today is The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst. One of Albanian writer Ismail Kadare's masterpieces, The Palace of Dreams, is now back in print in English, and Blake Butler's memoir Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia is now on shelves.
Variety reports that Universal Pictures has purchased the film rights to Melissa Marr's YA fantasy novel Wicked Lovely. Edward Scissorhands screenwriter Caroline Thompson is to adapt the book about a young girl pursued by the king of the fairies. As far as king-of-the-fairies movies go, I'm more interested in what's happened to the film adaption of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, whose film rights were purchased in 2004.
Recommended (Long) Reading: This lengthy excerpt from the latest book in Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle series. In it, Knausgaard is introduced to the literary world and stresses a great deal over his own claims to artistic merit: "Deep down, I was decent and proper, a goody-goody, and, I thought, perhaps that was also why I couldn’t write. I wasn’t wild enough, not artistic enough, in short, much too normal for my writing to take off. What had made me believe anything else? Oh, but this was the life-lie."